By a Thread

Jennifer Estep
By a Thread
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Simon & Schuster
Release Date
February 2012
Book 6 of Elemental Assassin
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Vamps & Shifters Romance

When killing people is your job, there's no such thing as a vacation.

Then again, how often does an assassin live long enough to enjoy her retirement? In this line of work, you either get lucky or you get dead. And since I destroyed my nemesis Mab Monroe a few weeks ago, all of Ashland's lowlifes are gunning to make a name for themselves by taking out the lethal Spider—me, Gin Blanco. So I'm leaving behind my beloved barbecue joint and heading south with my baby sister, Bria, to cool my heels in a swanky beach town. Call it a weekend of fun in the sun. But when a powerful vampire with deadly elemental magic threatens an old friend of Bria's, it looks like I'll have to dig my silverstone knives out of my suitcase after all. Complicating matters further is the reappearance of Detective Donovan Caine, my old lover. But Donovan is the least of my problems. Because this time, the danger is hot on my trail, and not even my elemental Ice and Stone magic may be enough to save me from getting buried in the sand—permanently.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Feb 13, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
153 people found the following review helpful
While it took a few books for this series to really grow on me, I've really come to care about Gin Blanco and her extended family. Thus, it was great to have a book that focused more on the characters, especially Gin herself, with all the sass and action that has defined this series from the start.

Even though her arch-enemy is gone, life just doesn't want to give Gin Blanco a break. With her reputation as the assassin known as Spider reaching all-time highs, her restaurant is filled every night with cautious gawkers and increasingly audacious thugs who are convinced that they will be the one to bring the Spider down. Desperate to just get away from it all, Gin convinces her sister Bria to come with her on vacation, and agrees to visit Bria's long-time friend Callie at her new restaurant, and meet Callie's fiancé. But if Gin ever imagined that her little getaway would be filled with good food and tacky t-shirt shops, she learns quickly just how mistaken she is.

Because Callie's new restaurant, the Sea Breeze, is being threatened by Randall Dekes, a local real-estate mogul who wants to build a casino on the site. Worse, not only does Dekes have a hand in every underhanded, shady dealing in town, but he is almost certainly responsible for the violent death of one of Callie's favorite neighbors. Worst of all, Dekes is a vampire with elemental magic, and more powerful than almost any creature Gin has yet faced.

Oh, and just in case this didn't seem like the worst vacation in history, it turns out that Callie's fiancé is none other than Gin's ex-lover, Detective Donovan Caine.

My dislike of Donovan might border on the obsessive, but especially now that Gin has found her currently lover, Owen, I was not a happy camper when Donovan came back into the picture. He is a reminder of all that kept me from sympathizing with Gin for so long. Still, it's a sign of a good series that she had this chance to deal with her residual feelings and finally settle that part of her. In the previous book, Gin was able to deal with the woman who wrecked her childhood and made her who she is. This book is all about Gin and who she wants to become, choosing between the person she was with Donovan to the person she is and can be with Owen.

Despite the fact that we don't meet the villain of this piece until about the half-way mark, he more than makes up for lost time. Dekes has survived for three centuries by stealing the power of others, and his hunger for all the elemental powers that Gin controls makes him absolutely merciless. While he is at least as powerful as all of Gin's former foes, if not the most powerful of all, he never counted on the Spider's own ruthless brand of justice. I wish we were given some more time to see him before the final showdown, as I thought his particular brand of subtle evil was fascinating. However, Dekes knows just how to make the most out of the time he is given and is not a villain that will be easy to forget.

Though the setting might be changed, all the characters I've come to love from this series made an eventual appearance. It was nice to see Gin and her sister, Bria, begin to work together and form a bond that went beyond their mutual quest for revenge for their ruined childhoods. It certainly bodes well for the rest of the series to see them work a case together and protect each other so well.

Most of all, I loved seeing Gin and Owen together. His faith in her powers and her strength is all anyone could ever want, and, to be honest, Owen's possessive instincts for Gin made him completely irresistible here. If it has felt like their relationship hasn't been front and center for a little while, this book certainly made up for that, and proved that there is something to be said for jealousy after all…

This was a character-driven story, a recovery period of sorts for the characters and readers alike, and thus not as action-heavy as previous books. Despite, or perhaps because of this, I found that I really enjoyed it. Gin is a really unique character and this story really provided a chance to see how far she's come in the course of the series. I wish that so much time wasn't taken up with explanations of previous stories. Some of it was necessary, as a reminder but all together, it did slow down the story considerably toward the beginning.

However, when the showdown with Dekes finally arrived, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Gin's ultimate enemy might be gone, but the Spider is alive and well, and more than ready to take on new adventures. And if the sneak peak provided at the end of this book is any indication, it's only going to get better from here.
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